This article continues the brief overview on the Epistle of James.
The Lessons Concerning Supplication
James takes up the great subject of prayer in a number of places in his epistle. He deals with freedom, faith, fervency, fellowship, and fruitfulness in this vital aspect of Christian living.
He begins first with the freedom by which the believer may approach the Father. “If any of you lack … let him ask of God Who giveth. This is the simple but profound truth in the word “parreesia” which is variously translated ‘plainly, openly, freely, with confidence”. It is rendered ‘boldly’ in Hebrews 4:16 in the expression, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy…,” and expresses the unreserved access that the believer has into the presence of God. In prayer, wisdom is not his only need, but if wisdom is required in the fiery trial, in the family, in finances, in the fellowship of the assembly, then the believer is told to “ask”. There is to be no hesitation and no reservation.
James says that we are not only to ask, but we are to ask in faith. These were the words of the Lord Jesus. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive”( Mat 21:22). The writer to the Hebrews enjoined, “He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them which diligently seek Him”(11:6).
James deals with fellowship in prayer, for the early believers were exhorted to “Confess your transgressions one to another and pray one for the other that ye may be healed” (5:16). James was a fervent man, a man on fire for God, and he desired not ritualistic prayers out of a source of habit, but rather, “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Fervent prayers are fruitful prayers as witnessed by the example of Elias, who “prayed with prayer,” and then prayed again. Elias truly was moving the Hand that moved the world.
Continued next month with “James’ Lesson Concerning Sin.”